Colour Theory in Art; it Captures Our Imagination in Silk Painting

By Barbara Gabogrecan

Cavs 0137-200

Cavalier King Charles dogs, Cameo and Cooper portrait

I personally, do not think silk painting would be so popular if it wasn’t for the iridescent richness of the colour one can achieve when painting with dyes on silk. In other words, we love silk painting because of the colour. But you do need to understand the colour theory in art to be able to get the best results from your silk paining.

Colour can affect us in a variety of ways. Medically, colour is often used to help control a patient’s mood swings and anxiety. Artists have discovered other interesting facts when certain colours are used. For example if you place red next to green it will create a kinetic effect and the colours will not only appear to move, but they will create a black line between the colours. In silk painting as you will draw a line, that black line is not likely to appear unless you are using black gutta (then you are placing the black line there; it is not happening automatically).

When we speak of colour blindness we are usually referring to ‘red/green’ colour blindness. Those suffering from this will usually see these colours as brown. It is very unusual to find someone who is totally colour blind. But my eldest son is (sad for a mum who is an artist!) He learnt to get his colours right most of the time by me constantly telling him what the colour was he was seeing (when a youngster) and he learned that the shade of gray he actually saw were called by the name of a colour.

It is important to understand about colour (what goes with what) and what happens if certain colours blend together (as they do on silk) For example, you may be using red next to green, but when it blends it can give a muddy looking brown. Colour is a very important module I present in the silk painting course.

You also need to understand that colours are not always accurate from a reality point of view, especially on silk. One reason is because white does not exist in the dyes. When wanting white to show, you have to leave the natural silk with no colour on it. In the photo above of a painting on a scarf of two of my Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, you can see how the white silk can still look very effective.

Size, as an element, just refers to the size of the graphic (drawing) or where it is positioned (background). By varying size in a graphic, you can create interest. Shape also simply refers to the shape of the image or the background. Shape can be geometrical (straight lines) or flowing (curved lines). Either can generate a different emotional response.

Direction can be a little more important. Your image may emphasise a vertical, oblique or horizontal direction. You may decide to exaggerate shapes to fit your design to a certain directions. This is more commonly seen in such things as designing banners for ads on computers or for print. Direction can be organic or static which in turn can cause a different response from viewers.

Once you understand the elements of design you can better create an interesting design from your drawing. The colour theory in art does require some learning/research, which is available via the online silk painting course.

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